ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

‘No-Buy’ Lists Could Cut Kids’ Exposure to Alcohol Ads, BU Finds

Young people’s exposure to alcohol advertisements on television could be greatly reduced if alcohol companies improved their use of so-called ‘no-buy’ lists, according to a study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

Alcohol manufacturers are self-regulated when it comes to advertising. In 2003, the industry set guidelines that limit advertising to media that have a primarily adult audience — with at least 71.6 percent of the audience being aged 21 or older. As far back as 1999, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had suggested that the industry use no-buy lists to guide their ad placements. Such lists would put certain television shows or other media off-limits because a large chunk of the audience is likely to be underage.

“It’s been cited by the FTC as a ‘best practice,’” said Dr. Craig Ross, lead researcher on the study, who is a research assistant professor of epidemiology and president of Fiorente Media of Boston. Ross also is a consultant to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, which supported the research.

While some alcohol companies have been using no-buy lists to guide their ad placements, Dr. Ross said young adults under the legal drinking age “have been exposed more than 15 billion times to alcohol advertisements that do not meet industry guidelines” over the last decade: “Regardless of how no-buy lists have been implemented in the past, there is clearly room for improvement.”

To read more about the study, go to: